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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

QPR's Derby County Draw: Reports and Comments...Warnock Hoping to Sign One or Two Players This Week

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QPR Official Site/Warnock
- Neil Warnock cut a frustrated figure, after seeing his side denied a late spot-kick in the R's 1-1 draw with Derby County.
- Lee Cook's strike on the stroke of half-time was cancelled out by Shaun Barker, but Warnock was left bemoaning the officials' failure to award Rangers a late penalty.
- "The conditions were difficult - especially in the driving rain," said Warnock.
- "I thought the first 20 minutes was the best we've played since I've been here.
- "We scored at the right time, but we threw it away really.
- "It was a very debatable free-kick which led to their goal, and then we're not given a foul late on.
- "Antonio's shirt was definitely pulled, but the linesman reckons he didn't see.
- "I don't want to start telling players to go down, but it makes you wonder.
- "You can see the shirt get pulled and it breaks his stride so it's a foul."
- Warnock added: "I can't fault the players' efforts.
- "They've put in another big shift and we'll do the same against Preston on Saturday." QPR

By Andy Sims, Press Association Sport

- Neil Warnock was back in the old routine of berating the officials after QPR's 1-1 draw with Derby.
- Rangers boss Warnock has been a picture of calm since arriving at Loftus Road from Crystal Palace earlier this month.
- But when young striker Antonio German appeared to get a tug in the area from Russell Anderson two minutes from time, Warnock was left fuming.
- "It was a blatant penalty," he said.
- "I don't need a TV crew to tell me his shirt was being pulled.
- " I asked the referee and he told me he didn't see it, but he saw everything else all night.
- "He's a young lad and do you have to tell him to cheat and go down, is that the only way to get a penalty?
- "It knocked him off his stride. He's frustrated because he knows he would have scored."
- Both these teams will not be sorry to see the back of disappointing seasons but they are making heavy weather of dragging themselves clear of the bottom three - Derby are now six points clear of the drop zone and Rangers a point better off.
- Forgotten man Lee Cook, who has been beset by injuries for the best part of three years, fired Rangers ahead with the last kick of the first half.
- Adel Taarabt, who had Robbie Savage shadowing him all game, for once escaped the Welshman's clutches and played in the unmarked Cook to lash home his first goal since Boxing Day 2008.
- But Derby hit back when centre-half Shaun Barker finished like a striker through a crowd of players in the 67th minute.
- "Shaun was outstanding at both ends, he headed everything and scored what was, for a non-ball playing centre-half, a very good goal and got an important point for us," said Rams boss Nigel Clough.
- "I was unhappy with the manner of the goal we conceded in the 47th minute - if we had made it to half-time then we might have gone on to win it 1-0.
- "I would have taken a point beforehand but I'm disappointed with the manner of the goal we conceded."
- Derby are without a win in five matches but have drawn their last three as they edge towards Clough's survival target of 52 points.
- They held out despite some fierce late pressure from Rangers, with Rowan Vine crashing a shot against the bar five minutes from time.
- "We're unbeaten in three is how I'll look at it," added Clough. "And another seven draws will be enough!" Sporting Life

Times Online/Tom Dart - March 24, 2010 Neil Warnock laments penalty that never was
Queens Park Rangers 1 Derby County 1

These sides inhabit that itchy zone just above the Coca-Cola Championship’s bottom three. We have reached that exciting time of the season when points cushions can be burst or plumped up in a single night – when the results from one round of fixtures can lift a club to near-certain safety or slide them down into peril.

Draws like this one, of course, prolong the purgatory, although it is hard to imagine Queens Park Rangers going down under the stewardship of a manager as shrewd as Neil Warnock.

“First 20 minutes were as good as we’ve played since I’ve been here,” Warnock said. “Overall, I’m pleased with the effort we’re giving. Certain areas we’re lacking but we’re going to have to bite our tongues till the end of the season.

Roll on summer. I’m looking forward to the challenge. When you get to my age you want to do everything yesterday. I know who I want [to sign], I’ll try and do it as soon as I can. I’ll be negotiating. If you can get one or two of your top targets in early, you’ve got an advantage.”

Warnock is planning to sign one or two players before Thursday’s loan deadline, provided they join with a view to a permanent move. “I don’t want to rush too much, I want to make sure they’re right,” he said.

Not for the first time in his long career – indeed, probably not for the 500th time – Warnock was upset with the performance of a referee. He lambasted Mick Russell and his assistants for failing to spot a late shirt-tug on Antonio German, a substitute.

“It’s a blatant penalty,” he said. “I don’t need a TV crew or the IT guy to show me his shirt being pulled. He’s told me he didn’t see it, but he’s seen everything else all night. [German’s] a young lad. Do you have to tell him to cheat, to go down? You expect professionals to see that and it’s a crucial time, it’s only two minutes to go. He’s very frustrated because he knows he can score.”

Derby County are now without a win in five matches, but considering their dismal away record, they were happy to take a point – their third successive draw. “If we get another seven draws in our last seven games, that will be 52 points and that should be enough,” Nigel Clough, the Derby manager, said.

Sounds about right, but a twist is still possible: both clubs still have to play Crystal Palace, the team occupying 22nd place. Warnock goes back to Selhurst Park on April 10 for a game that will presumably be on the vindaloo side of spicy, then Derby host Palace a week later.

The Loftus Road loyalists were so enthralled by their side’s early dominance that for several minutes they forgot to boo Robbie Savage. What a way to treat football’s favourite pantomime villain.

Rangers were rampant in the first ten minutes, forcing two fine saves from Stephen Bywater. Derby contributed to their own problems, their players shanking clearances sideways or backwards like golfers with the yips.

Shortly before the quarter-hour, Alejandro Faurlin even felt bold enough to test Stephen Bywater, the Derby goalkeeper, with a drive from 30 yards that forced him into an unconvincing parry.

They could hardly have been worse, but soon Derby were much better. With Savage a more influential figure, they punted a couple of crosses into the box, but Carl Ikeme, the QPR goalkeeper, was not tested in earnest until a tame free kick from Savage after 32 minutes that was easily saved.

QPR’s initial fluency had vanished into the ether, and they were strangely subdued as the half wore on. After 39 minutes, though, the gloves were off. Literally. Adel Taarabt flung his pair to the dugout after one came off when the midfield player was hauled down by Savage. This cynical attempt to scupper a dangerous-looking QPR breakaway merited a yellow card, but Russell was bafflingly lenient, as he was all night.

A goalless first period seemed inevitable, but QPR took the lead from nowhere seconds before the break. Taarabt raced forward down the right and his clever diagonal pass caught out the Derby defence. Lee Cook collected it, made space for a shot and smashed a low drive past Bywater. It was the injury-hit winger’s first goal since Boxing Day 2008.

Having failed to make the most of their purple patch, QPR found the net when they looked least dangerous. “A highly unprofessional goal,” Clough said. “We keep on at them about learning and learning, and they’ve got to learn quicker than that.”

The second half was a tedious stalemate until a sudden, and excellent, equaliser from Shaun Barker after 67 minutes. Despite a posse of bodies obstructing his path to goal, he brought the ball down near the penalty spot and gave Ikeme no chance with a precise, low drive. The manager’s praise was not gushing, exactly. “For a non-ball-playing centre half, quite a skilful goal,” Clough said. “He’s not the most comfortable with the ball.”

QPR then awoke and were the more threatening and inventive team for the rest of the match, but Rowan Vine bashing the ball against the crossbar in the last ten minutes was as close as they came.

Queens Park Rangers (4-4-2): C Ikeme – P Ramage, D Stewart, K Gorkss, M Connolly (sub: M Hill, 33min) — L Cook (sub: A German, 59), M Leigertwood, A Faurlin, A Tarrabt – J Simpson (sub: H Ephraim, 78), R Vine. Substitutes not used: R Cerny, A Buzsaky, A Balanta, T Priskin. Booked: Faurlin.

Derby County (4-1-4-1): S Bywater – N Hunt (sub: S Davies, 60), S Barker, R Anderson, J McEveley – R Savage – G Sunu (sub: D Leacock, 46), M Tonge, P Green, S Pearson – C Porter (sub: R Hulse, 82). Substitutes not used: D Martin, G Teale, D Moxey, D Martin. Booked: Leacock The Times

Shaun Barker rescued a point for Derby as QPR and the Rams both eased another notch clear of the relegation zone.

Forgotten man Lee Cook, making a rare start for Rangers, had fired Neil Warnock's side into the lead in first-half stoppage time with his first goal since Boxing Day 2008.

But centre-half Barker finished more like a striker after the break to peg the hosts back with his fourth goal of the season.

Rangers came agonisingly close to snatching the win when Rowan Vine rattled the woodwork late on, but County escaped with a valuable point.

Both these teams will not be sorry to see the back of disappointing seasons but they are making heavy weather of dragging themselves clear of the bottom three - Rangers have not won in four and Derby in five.

Nigel Clough will not be relaxing just yet but his Rams side now have a handy six-point cushion while QPR lie a point and a place better off.

Yet Clough's side could have been two down in the opening five minutes but for goalkeeper Stephen Bywater, who dived low to his left to keep out Jay Simpson's shot before tipping a fierce angled drive from Matt Connolly over the top.

The visitors hit back with Rangers keeper Carl Ikeme saving from Barker's header and holding onto a curling free-kick from Robbie Savage.

The set-piece made a welcome change for Savage, who spent the rest of the first half man-marking Rangers playmaker Adel Taarabt, snapping away at the Moroccan's heels, chirping in his ear and generally irritating the home crowd in his own inimitable style.

However, in stoppage time, Taarabt finally escaped the Welshman's clutches and played a diagonal ball to Cook.

The winger, who has been beset by injuries for the best part of three years, was left with far too much room to lash his shot inside Bywater's near post with the last kick of the half.

Rangers had a let-off six minutes after the break when Chris Porter was robbed by Damion Stewart as he shaped to tap in from six yards.

But Derby did draw level in the 67th minute when Rangers failed to deal with Savage's high free-kick into the area and Barker was on hand to lash the loose ball through a crowd of defenders and past the helpless Ikeme.

Rangers had the better chances to win it with Taarabt and Alejandro Faurlin both firing narrowly wide, before Vine crashed his shot against the crossbar with five minutes remaining. Sporting Life

QPR Official Site
Lee Cook's stunning low drive was not enough to give QPR victory against Derby, but the 1-1 draw means they do still remain unbeaten in four at Loftus Road under Neil Warnock's stewardship.

Rangers took the lead on the stroke of half-time, after Taarabt's sublime through ball found Cook on the edge of the area, who blasted home into the left-hand bottom corner.

It proved to be not enough for the R's, however, and when a Robbie Savage free-kick failed to be cleared, Shaun Barker was on hand to smash home from inside the box.

QPR pressed for a second goal late on. Though County, to their credit, held firm to seal a draw.

R's chief Warnock made four changes for the visit of the Rams.

Damion Stewart returned to the side after suspension, while Rowan Vine, Cook and Jay Simpson were also included amongst the starting XI.

That meant that Akos Buzsaky, Matt Hill, Hogan Ephraim and Tamas Priskin all had to make do with a place on the bench for the hosts.

Rangers stuck with Carl Ikeme in goal, with a back four of Peter Ramage, Stewart, Kaspars Gorkss and Matt Connolly.

The midfield quartet consisted of Cook, Mikele Leigertwood, Alejandro Faurlin and Vine on the left.

Taarabt joined Simpson in attack.

On a rainsoaked evening in the capital, it was the R's who were out of the traps quickest.

Taarabt went racing down the left before he cut in and curled a shot in at goal from the edge of the penalty area that was blocked away by Barker for a corner kick.

From the resultant set-piece, Taarabt's corner from the left-hand side swung dangerous towards the goal before Stephen Bywater did well to rise and claim the ball.

Soon after, Connolly breezed past two men just past midway before he played a cutting reverse through pass to Taarabt, and the magical Moroccan forced a fine low save from Bywater.

The Hoops continued to press in numbers, and the Derby keeper was forced into another fine save after Connolly latched on to Faurlin's pass to blast in a rasping shot that was beaten clear.

This was fast becoming one-way traffic, with Rangers camped in the County half.

Moments later, Faurlin received the ball around 35-yards out before he produced a thunderous low drive that was well saved by Bywater for County.

Lovely play between Cook, Leigertwood and Vine eventually saw the former send in a low effort from the right that was blocked away for a corner.

The visiting side had their first effort on target. After a free-kick was played from deep into Gilless Sunu, he nodded on into path of Chris Porter, who headed straight at Ikeme in the R's goal.

Derby, by now, had weathered the R's storm, and Savage then saw his bending free-kick saved by Rangers stopper Ikeme soon after.

QPR were soon back on the attack though and after Taarabt did well to ride a number of challenges, he dragged a shot well wide of Bywater's left-hand post with the half-time whistle fast approaching.

Just before the interval, QPR took a well-earned lead.

Taarabt made the goal, winning the ball just short of the halfway line before he drove at the Derby rearguard and slipped the ball through to Cook on the left-hand edge of the penalty area.

Unmarked but at a tight angle, Cook drilled the ball low past Bywater who had no chance for the Rams.

The rain was unrelenting at the start of the second half, and it was Derby who were almost handed an equaliser after a mistake from Ikeme.

Michael Tonge's superb delivery from the left was too hot for Ikeme to handle, and Stewart had to be alert to sweep the ball out just as it looked as though striker Porter would slot home.

Just short of the hour mark, Antonio German replaced Cook, who was given a standing ovation for his opener as he came off.

Shortly after, the Loftus Road crowd were silenced as County notched a surprise equalising goal.

When a free-kick was played by Savage from deep into the box, Rangers failed to clear the bouncing ball before Barker lashed home when free to draw the Rams level.

Undeterred the R's still continued to get forward in this highly-charged fixture.

Taarabt was still firmly in the thick of the play for the hosts, and he drove at the Derby defence before powering a shot just wide.

Soon after, Faurlin went even closer still and his rasping effort was blocked away for a corner.

Rangers then went within inches of stealing the points, though when German and Ephraim both combined to play in Vine on the edge of the box, his effort smashed against the crossbar and went over.

QPR: Ikeme, Ramage, Stewart, Leigertwood, Vine, Gorkss, Connolly (Hill 33), Cook (German 59), Faurlin, Simpson (Ephraim 78), Taarabt.

Subs: Cerny, Buzsaky, Balanta, Priskin.

Goals: Cook (45)

Bookings: Faurlin

Derby County: Bywater, McEveley, Green, Savage, Porter (Hulse 82), Barker, Pearson, Tonge, Hunt (Davies 61), Anderson, Sunu (Leacock 46).
Subs: David Martin, Teale, Moxey, Dave Martin.
Goals: Barker (67) Bookings: Leacock Referee: Mr K K Wright Attendance: 12, 569

Derby County Official Site

Shaun Barker's fourth goal of the season secured a valuable point for Derby County on their travels at Queens Park Rangers this evening.

The defender crashed home midway through the second half to cancel out Lee Cook's opener for Neil Warnock's side in 1st half injury time to make it a third successive draw for the Rams in the Championship.

Nigel Clough chose to recall skipper Robbie Savage to the Derby midfield at Loftus Road, with Rob Hulse making way to the bench.

That meant Chris Porter led the line alone, but with the creative influence of Michael Tonge playing just off the former Motherwell striker.

Derby had to contend with a barrage of early Rangers pressure and Stephen Bywater was forced into 3 fine stops.

His first save came on 6 minutes to turn away Jay Simpson's powerful low shot from inside the box.

Seconds later he was performing heroics once again, this time pushing away a stinging effort from Matthew Connolly after cutting inside from the left-hand side.

Bywater's next impressive stop came on the 15 minute mark diving full length to his left to push Faurlin's 35-yard drive away to safety as the early pressure continued in the driving rain from the home side.

After putting their bodies on the line and defending well as a team unit Derby grew in confidence and on the lush playing surface at Loftus Road and began to put the home side on the back foot.

Porter was inches away from meeting a dangerous cross from Gilles Sunu at the midway point of the half as Derby launched a spell of pressure on the QPR goal Ikeme made his first save a minute later to gather a looping header from Barker.

Savage tested Ikeme with a free-kick inside the 'D' on the half hour, but he wasn't able to repeat his goalscoring exploits as he did in this season's earlier meeting at Pride Park and the on-loan Wolves goalkeeper saved easily.

In first half injury time the deadlock was broken as Rangers hit Derby on the counter attack. A sweeping move resulted in the ball being moved out wide to Lee Cook in a one-on-one situation against Nicky Hunt and he crashed home a low drive from 18 yards beyond the helpless Bywater.

Clough made a change at the interval with Dean Leacock on for Gilles Sunu, with Nicky Hunt pushing further forwards to the right-hand side of midfield.

Chasing the equaliser Derby started the 2nd half brightly ad a corner from Tonge saw Ikeme spill the ball in the slippery conditions but Stewart hacked away on his own goal-line with Porter ready to pounce.

Derby made another attack-minded change on the hour, introducing Steven Davies into the game in place of Hunt on the right of midfield.

And Derby's persistence finally paid off on 67 minutes when up from the back Shaun Barker crashed home a well-taken equaliser.

A free-kick into the Rangers box wasn't dealt with sufficiently and Barker took full advantage by bringing the ball under control, steadying himself and then crashing a low shot past the motionless Ikeme to send the away fans in the lower tier behind the goal into raptures.

With their tails up, Derby weren't sitting back and content to hold out for a point and they continued to force the issue.

The home crowd were becoming increasingly frustrated with their side, playing right into Derby's hands as the final 15 minutes approached.

Inevitably the home side did put together a late spell of pressure which called for more heroic defending from Derby's defence, with Anderson and Barker both outstanding throughout.

Hulse came on for Porter with 8 minutes left to provide fresh legs in attack, but it was the home side who came closest to a winner with a few minutes left when Rowan Vine crashed a stunning volley off the crossbar.

With that Derby breathed a big sigh of relief because defeat for another battling away display would have been exceptionally harsh, especially after showing great spirit and determination to come back from a goal down away from home...
Attendance: 12,569 (783 Derby County fans) Derby

1 Newcastle 38 44 80
2 West Brom 38 34 75
3 Nottm Forest 39 23 70
4 Leicester 37 11 61
5 Swansea 39 2 61
6 Cardiff 37 16 58
7 Blackpool 39 10 54
8 Middlesbrough 39 9 53
9 Sheff Utd 38 3 53
10 Doncaster 39 3 52
11 Coventry 38 -7 51
12 Bristol City 39 -10 49
13 Barnsley 38 -12 49
14 Reading 36 -3 48
15 Preston 39 -10 48
16 Ipswich 39 -8 47
17 QPR 38 -5 46
18 Derby 39 -11 45
19 Scunthorpe 38 -19 44
20 Watford 36 -8 42
21 Sheff Wed 38 -18 40

22 Crystal Palace 38 -4 39
23 Plymouth 38 -15 37
24 Peterborough 39 -25 30

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